I'm just now getting a chance to write this after a 9-day trip to Grand Velas last month. We had read many tripadvisor reviews prior to going so knew what to expect. We stayed in the both the Zen section and the Grand Class, to be able to try out both experiences. They are definitely different depending on what you want for your vacation.
We started in the Zen section. Check-in was painless. Our concierge, Freddy, got us settled in right away. (he was great). We had a Zen Plunge Pool Suite with a view of the Jungle. We were on the end, which provided privacy and an opportunity to watch the turtles in the pond off our deck. The rooms are large, although slightly dimly lit, but have everything you need. The only complaint we had about our room was the shuttle buses. The entire time we were in this "zen" suite, we were subjected to the reverse beeps of the shuttle bus about every 10 minutes. They start early in the morning and go on indefinitely. It certainly took away from the Zen experience, so if you want peace and tranquility, I would suggest avoiding a suite that faces the spa as this is where the shuttle stops all day. Our room was cleaned well every day and the mini bar restocked. The maid service was excellent throughout the entire resort and the cleaning staff was so friendly. Walking around the Zen area was beautiful. There was so much foliage and the lighted pathways at night were a nice end to an evening after dinner.
Shuttle service to/from areas of the resort was great. The drivers were friendly, the shuttles clean and comfortable, and you never had to wait. They run constantly so it is no trouble to get around to various restaurants and pools.
We moved to the Grand Class the latter part of our stay to be able to experience the ocean view and close access to the pool where we spent most of our time. This room was gorgeous! Very bright, large, and comfortable with an amazing view of the beach/ocean and Cozumel. Try to get on the 4th floor as the vaulted ceilings make it feel even larger than it already is.
We visited all 3 pools at the resort- the Zen was very spa-like with several different swimming areas so that it didn't feel crowded. Service in this area was good, but we spent the majority of our time at the Grand Class pool as it was adults only. The Ambassador pool was full of kids (spring break) so we didn't spend a lot of time there and were glad we hadn't booked this section as it looked like the chairs filled up quickly and there was always lots of activity going on. But if you have kids- this is the place to be.
The food at this resort surpassed any all-inclusive that we have been to. Our favorites were Frida and Bistro, but we visited them all on various occasions. Everything was fresh, and they probably cooked the best steak we've ever had at a restaurant- on multiple occasions- which has been rare on previous trips to Mexico. Tons of fresh seafood, fruits, and so many options that you could go back to a restaurant several times and not have the same thing twice. Some favorites: Filet at Lucca, Shrimp tagliatelle and green juice at Bistro, EVERYTHING at Frida, the lunch buffet at Azul, and the entire experience at Autor. Autor is a restaurant I didn't expect to like but the combinations and creativity were great and it wasn't as molecular as we had originally thought. Very well done- don't miss the chance to try it.
One of the reasons that I gave this resort a "4" rather than a "5" was service. The resort was fully booked and we may have had unreasonable expectations, but the service levels in many of the restaurants was lacking. Perhaps the worst experience was at Sen Lin. We had a reservation, but had to wait 40 minutes for a table regardless. During this time, we were approached by a cocktail waitress and ordered our drinks. I ordered a drink with ginger- as it is an Asian restaurant and I felt this should be easy to accomodate (plus, they had accomodated it two nights earlier when we had been there just for drinks). We kept waiting and waiting, watching 20 or so drinks leave the bar but ours were nowhere to be found. After 30 minutes, and several times asking where our drinks were, the cocktail waitress came and told us they don't have ginger. 30 minutes! Not acceptable. They scurried to try to figure it out, but it was literally 15 minutes later, after we were seated, that I was finally served a drink. This is unacceptable. We asked the hostess to see a manager, Roberto, and he never came during our entire meal. She said she would leave a note for him but he never contacted us during our stay and this service level ruined our evening. We experienced several other service issues at restaurants around the resort- just not something we expected with a resort of this caliber, and we voiced these to management on many occasions. They seemed receptive and many managers did go out of their way to rectify individual situations, but it shouldn't have happened in the first place.
That being said, we also experienced excellent service by many people in many areas. Marcos kept our towels fresh and drinks cold at the Grand Class Pool on a daily basis. Ceilo, in Sen Lin served us drinks in the lounge (our first visit) and was so pleasant and engaging. Balthazhar- the manager on duty at Lucca- went out of his way to rectify a rather unsatisfactory waiter and he and Jaime saved our night at Lucca. Jose on the beach was great. Bistro was one of our favorite restaurants. We ate lunch there on several occasions while taking a break from the Grand Class pool. The food was excellent every time and the service was amazing from Socrates and Christian. You are missing out if you don't visit this restaurant. And finally, Frida. This restaurant was our most frequently visited and we must have tried everything on the menu- some multiple times. The corn poblano soup, tuna, rib-eye, bean cappucino, fried cheese...the list goes on and on. But the service truly set this restaurant apart. Damian-Garcia (acting mgr. that night), Xavier, Arturo, Daniel and Basilo were entertaining and so accomodating and made our last night at Grand Velas a true culinary journey and fun!
A special thanks to Amenecer and Esteban at Zen, for helping us to make the most of this vacation. To Alejandro and Alan at Grand Class for getting to know us and truly going out of their way to make it special for us. We have been to many resorts in Mexico (Secrets the Vine, Valentin, Dreams Cancun, Paradisus La Perla) and this resort exceeded all in luxury and definitely in food/beverage. We hope to return some day and see the familiar faces who made our stay so enjoyable.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Grand Velas Riviera Maya is one of the newest resorts to distinguish Riviera Maya as a premier vacation destination. The uniquely Mexican world-class hospitality we provide is "Beyond All Inclusive, Beyond All Compare", and we are proud to be the only family-friendly All Inclusive resort in the Mexican Caribbean to have been rated Five Diamonds by the AAA. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort, Riviera Maya Hotel Playa Del Carmen
- Grand Velas All Suites And Spa Resort, Riviera Maya
- Grand Velas Hotel Riviera Maya
- Grand Velas Riviera Maya Playa Del Carmen, Mexico